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Details for The Apple Doesn't Fall Far From The Tree, Bonarda

Matías Riccitelli
(click to find out more)


The largest, most famous and most productive winemaking region in Argentina, Mendoza is also one of the driest places in the world.  The Andes soar into the skyline and catch any rainfall headed Mendoza’s way.
Mendoza is so dry that its vineyards must be irrigated using meltwater from the mountains.  Lots of sunshine and almost no rain make ripening healthy grapes easy, and control over irrigation allows producers to make lots of dilute wine or small amounts of concentrated wine, as they desire.  There has been a massive shift towards the latter since the ’90s.
Mendoza is a huge area with a number of sub-regions, the most notable being Maipú, Luján de Cuyo and, perhaps the most exciting, the relative newcomer Valle de Uco.  A number of well-resourced wineries have invested in this high-altitude sub-region where nights are cool and the wines’ acidity is consequently high.
Malbec is the undisputed champion variety to grow in Mendoza, and so successful has it been here that Argentina is now considered to be the grape’s true home, despite its origins in Bordeaux.  Cabernet Sauvignon, Bonarda, Syrah and Tempranillo are other important red grapes.  Whites are less-planted, at least outside of the Valle de Uco, with Chardonnay and Torrontés being the main varieties.

Matías Riccitelli

Thirty-six-year-old Matías is the son of the renowned Jorge Riccitelli, chief winemaker at Argentinean giant Bodega Norton since 1992.  Mentored by his father from an early age, he worked as head winemaker at Fabre Montmayou before founding his own winery in 2009 at Vistalba in Luján de Cuyo, the heart of the Mendoza region.
At only 20 hectares of vineyards (although some additional fruit is bought in), this is a very boutique operation by Argentinian standards.  By contrast, Bodega Norton has around 1300 hectares.  The focus is on Malbec, with four separate ones including the flagship Republica del Malbec from centenarian vines.  Joining the Malbec in his Vineyard Selection range is a Cabernet Franc and a Chardonnay, the latter from vineyards in the higher, cooler Valle de Uco to the south.
Valle de Uco also contributes the fruit for the two whites in his mid-priced Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From The Tree range (a reference to his famous father), whose reds include a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Bonarda as well as the obligatory Malbec.  Finally there is Hey Malbec! from younger vines which you may have spotted in Majestic.  Not content just with Mendoza, he also makes an old-vine Merlot and Sémillon in Patagonia at Fabre Montmayou where he used to work.

about this wine About this wine

This Bonarda comes from a 60-year-old vineyard close to Matias’s new winery (completed in 2013) in Vistalba, Luján de Cuyo.  All vineyards here have to be irrigated (annual rainfall is just 20 cm) and this one uses the traditional technique of flood irrigation.  This is less efficient than modern drip irrigation but has the advantage of driving the vine roots deep.  Indeed, older vineyards like this are hard to convert to drip irrigation because there are no roots near the surface.
The late-ripening Bonarda is usually the last grape to be picked at Vistalba, around the middle of April.  A green harvest is performed in December, picking and discarding some of the bunches so the vines can concentrate their energies on those that remain.  2013 was an excellent vintage in the region, with a cool spell late in the season prolonging the ripening period.  Harvesting was by hand into small 20kg trays to avoid damage to the fruit, followed by meticulous hand-sorting at the winery to remove any damaged or diseased bunches.
Fermentation took place at a controlled temperature of 26°C for a long 30 days, with four pump-overs each day.  That’s a lot of skin contact, which should produce a deep and concentrated wine.  15% of the juice was bled from the vat early in the fermentation to increase the ratio of skins to juice, boosting the concentration still further.  The wine was aged for a year in French oak barrels, before being clarified with fresh egg whites and then bottled.

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